Washington DC expected to see record travel for Independence Day Weekend

More than 1.8 million Washington-metro area residents are projected to travel 50 miles or more over the Independence Day holiday weekend, according to AAA. 

This marks a 6% increase compared to last year and over 5% more than in 2019.

"With school out across the country, summer vacations are in full swing, and the 4th of July holiday seems like the perfect time for a getaway," said Ragina Cooper Ali, spokeswoman for AAA in Maryland and Washington, D.C. 

FILE-Travelers search for their suitcases in a baggage holding area for Southwest Airlines at Denver International Airport on December 28, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

"We are seeing that a residual impact of COVID has been greater work flexibility, affording many the opportunity to work remotely and extend weekend and holiday trips," Ali added.

AAA estimates that more than 1.6 million metro-area residents—nearly 90% of travelers—will drive during the holiday week. This is an increase of nearly 6% compared to both last year and 2019. "Nationally, gas prices are trending about 11 cents lower than last year. Here, in the D.C. metro area, Tuesday’s average of $3.49 is a penny less than a year ago," noted Ali. She added that while pump prices are expected to remain stable until after Labor Day, the hurricane season could potentially impact Gulf Coast oil production and refining centers, leading to fluctuations.

Air travel is also anticipated to be strong, with AAA projecting more than 129,000 D.C. area travelers flying to their July 4th destinations. This is nearly 7% higher than last year and more than a 12% increase compared to 2019. AAA’s booking data shows domestic airfare is 2% cheaper this Independence Day week compared to last year, with the average price for a domestic round-trip ticket at $800. Ali recommends travelers arrive at airports two hours early, reserve parking in advance, and opt for carry-on luggage to save time and money.

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The "other" travel category, which includes buses, trains, and cruises, is also seeing a rebound, with over 79,000 District travelers expected to take these modes of transportation. This represents an increase of nearly 12% compared to last year, although it is still down more than 8% from pre-pandemic levels in 2019. "Baltimore and other hometown ports remain popular and convenient for many in our region," stated Ali. She also noted that cruise travelers can find deals this summer as new ships entering the market lead to targeted discounts on older inventory.

Nationally, a record 71 million people are predicted to travel for the holiday this year, with more than 60 million hitting the roads. Air travel is also expected to set a record with nearly six million travelers, reflecting a 7% increase from last year and more than a 12% rise compared to pre-pandemic days in 2019.